Yesterday, I tweeted: “In response to someone wishing me a merry Christmas, I said it back instead of wishing him happy holidays. I hope no one reports me.”
As is usual for me, I neglected to be specific enough in 140 characters or less, and should have added a very important word to my tweet: accidentally. I did not think about saying “merry Christmas” in return; I just did it.
As I was raised Roman Catholic, I celebrated Christmas for many years, and during that time wished people a merry Christmas. I was a child, and did not consider my wish to be harmful or prejudiced. As I grew older, I understood the implications of forcing one’s religious preferences on others, and changed my language accordingly. Even when the words lost their religious meaning to me, I avoided saying them. I continue to be careful with my word choice around this time of year, especially at work.
Which is why it was so surprising to hear myself repeat “merry Christmas” after the patron said it yesterday. I cannot remember the last time I intentionally spoke those words, although I probably do without thinking to my mom and dad because that is how we greet each other on the phone when we talk on December 25th.
What do you think about holidayspeak? Did my knee-jerk response violate the rule of political correctness? Or did I respect his faith by responding in kind, even though I no longer share it? If he had mentioned Yule or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, would the same rule apply? How would you have responded without thinking?